Around this time of year, I usually get a bad case of end-of-summer FOMO. As the days grow shorter and the nights cooler, I feel an overwhelming urge to cram in as many summer-only activities as I can manage. A picnic at the shore. A trip to the fair. Just a few more melty popsicles.
But this year, something’s different. I head to Paris in just over a week; when I get back, summer will be long gone. I keep waiting for the panic to set in, but it has yet to make an appearance.
I have a hopeful theory as to why this might be; this year, I haven’t been pushing myself like a crazy person. I’ve realized that my body usually knows what I need--all I have to do is listen. (Which is of course much harder than it sounds, especially when your head is swimming with tons of “shoulds” and “ought tos” and other annoying thoughts.)
This summer, I’ve managed to stay tuned in to what my intuition and my body are telling me. If my body says it wants pancakes for breakfast, we have pancakes. If it says it isn’t hungry, we wait to eat until it is. If it says it’s tired of sitting at the computer and wants to take a walk in the middle of the day, we lace up our shoes and head out the door. If it says take a nap, we snuggle up on the couch. (Mostly. Naps still aren’t my fave.)
I still struggle with going to bed when I’m tired. And zoning out on Instagram when I’m bored. And eating chocolate when I know I’m not hungry. But I’ve been amazed at how much better I feel when I listen to my body and trust my intuition.
When I was first experimenting with listening more closely to what my inner compass had to tell me, I was afraid I’d never want to do work again and slide down into a black hole of sloth. The opposite has been true. When I tune into what I really want and need, whether it be a nap or a new pair of shoes, I have more energy and enthusiasm for work. Some days I spend most of my time doing things I find fun and energizing: shooting with my camera, walking, knitting, cooking for pleasure, reading. Then when my tank is full, I usually feel like getting some work done. The part I’ve been most astonished by is that when I engage from a full tank, I can turn out better quality work in a fraction of the time--and not feel drained by it. For someone who has always been more stick than carrot with herself, this feels like an absolute miracle.
I think all the pleasures--large and small--I’ve managed to fit into my summer have chased the FOMO away. If summer ended tomorrow, I wouldn’t feel cheated. That said, in the time I have left before I take off for France, I intend to relish all the summer treasures that come my way--including more sweet summer berries from the farmers market.
These jammy bars are about as simple as summer baking gets and a delicious way to work a few more juicy berries into your life before we head into fall. I hope you’re soaking up all the goodness the season brings, with lots of sunshine and very little FOMO.
Almond-Oat Berry Bars
- 8 oz. (2 sticks) butter, softened, plus more for the pan
- 9 ½ oz. (2 cups) all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ¾ cup rolled oats
- ¼ cup sliced or slivered almonds
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 cup raspberry preserves
- 1 cup mixed berries (I used raspberries and blackberries)
- Vanilla ice cream, to serve (optional)
*Note: baking these in an 8- or 9-inch pan yields a fairly thick, cake-like bar. If you want a thinner, crisper bar, bake them in a larger pan.
Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle. Butter an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan.
Combine the flour, sugars, oats, almonds, salt and ginger in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse just to combine. Add in the butter and pulse to combine. Add the egg and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, scraping down the bowl as needed. Set aside 1 ½ cups of the crumble mixture.
Press the remaining mixture into the bottom the prepared pan. Spread the berry preserves over the mixture, leaving 1/2-inch border. Press the berries into the preserves then crumble the reserved 1 ½ cups mixture over the preserves. Bake until lightly browned, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool slightly before cutting into bars.
Take your berry bars to the next level by serving them warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Makes 12 servings.
Recipe adapted from Anne Thornton